Eric Clapton’s Significant Influence On Sammy Hagar


Sammy Hagar is mainly known for his tenure in Van Halen. However, he rose to prominence with Montrose in the early 1970s and embarked on a successful solo career before joining the band. After his on-and-off career with Van Halen, Hagar is currently fronting Chickenfoot and Sammy Hagar And The Circle.

The Red Rocker was born in Salinas, California, and lived in a labor camp with his parents and three siblings. When his mother left his father due to alcohol abuse and violent tendencies, he began picking fruits, delivering newspapers, and mowing lawns to earn money. Hagar then discovered music in high school and started teaching himself to play guitar.

At that time, Hagar was influenced deeply by blues music and listening to the great blues artists like B.B. King and Albert King. Later in his career, he expressed these influences in his style. As it turns out, Eric Clapton also greatly influenced Hagar with his music.

How Did Eric Clapton Inspire Sammy Hagar?


Sammy Hagar spoke to Geoff Edgers of the Washington Post on July 30, 2021, for a live interview streamed on Instagram. At some point, he recalled when he first started playing music and talked about his musical influences. Hagar then mentioned a significant impact on his music, Eric Clapton.

According to Hagar, he saw Eric Clapton while performing with Cream at Whisky A Go Go for their first American show. After that, he told himself he wanted to play guitar like Clapton and stole a guitar to teach himself how to play the instrument as the legendary guitarist did.

Following that, The Red Rocker thought he would need to listen to Clapton’s influences to play like him, so he started listening to B.B. King, Albert King, and big names in the blues scene. The musician then said he also learned singing that way and sang the same songs Clapton sang. As Hagar noted, he even sang ‘Crossroads’ before Cream.

During the conversation with Geoff Edgers, Sammy Hagar said the following:

“When I started playing music, I was listening to the blues guys because Eric Clapton was a big influence on me. I saw him in Cream’s first American performance at Whisky A Go Go, and I said, ‘I’m gonna play guitar like that man.’ I stole the guitar. Don’t do it, folks. I did it, yes, I got away with it, but I paid for it many times.

I got a Les Paul, and I started playing like Eric Clapton. So, I had to go back and listen to what he was listening to, B.B. King, Albert King, the blues guys. Yeah, that’s how I learned to play guitar. And I started singing like that too. I mean, what are you going to do? You’re listening to the old blues songs. I’m singing ‘Crosscut Saw’ and the same songs Clapton sang later. I was singing ‘Crossroads’ before Cream did it.”

So, when he embarked on a music career, Sammy Hagar got inspiration from Eric Clapton and decided to play guitar like him. Thanks to Clapton’s influence, Hagar became a great guitarist and singer with blues roots and many successful hits in his catalog.